While experts said the South Stream cancellation was largely due to other factors, the sanctions and rhetoric against Moscow from the West have taken their own toll on the Russian energy sector. The major drop in oil prices has also taken a toll.
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"The Russian economy is obviously in a dire state at this point," Boersma said, pointing to an estimated $100 billion annual cost of oil's decline and a $40 billion yearly effect from sanctions. "Having said that, I have always believed that there will be buyers for Russian commodities, even if the U.S. and Europe believe that they can 'isolate' Russia, and the deals with China and Turkey are good examples of this in my view."
Still, damage from sanctions is likely to become increasingly dire for the Russian energy sector, Goodrich said, as firms will find it impossible to secure credit for either new projects or to pay off loans. Moscow-controlled oil company Rosneft is particularly disadvantaged, with $23 billion due in the next 3 months, but Gazprom would also suffer if sanctions continued for years.
Another consequence of the sanctions have been the loss of faith in Russian companies, James Henderson, senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said in a Thursday talk at Columbia University. In fact, Rosneft oil sales to Japan have essential ceased because no one wants to finance those deals, he said.
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The loss of Western energy technology will also begin to take a toll on the sector, as American and European firms are the only ones possessing the capabilities to access Russia's energy reserves. "Everything that is conventional energy in Russia has really been tapped," she said.
Chinese companies have developed some of those required technologies, but they remain untested, Goodrich added.